Taxing Questions

WARNING: This one has a lot of discussion of vomit.

I’ve been in a lot of taxis this week, and I have to say that after about half of a block the novelty wore off. Initially I enjoyed just watching Chicago streets go by, but seeing how the cabbies moved us through traffic made me uneasy. Eventually, I distracted myself by reading the posted fee schedule.

$3.25 just to sit in the cab. Another $1 for each additional passenger. $0.20 per mile. $50 for vomit cleanup.

Wait, what?

I read it again. “$50 vomit cleanup”.

When encountering oddly specific charges like this, my brain goes through a predictable downward spiral of irreverent thinking.


There has to be a reason for cabbies to list this cleanup charge, and that reason is likely that fares throw up a lot. When I mentioned this to Wendi, she drily observed that drunks take cabs.

At least they aren’t hurling in their own cars, right?

How does this help?

Picture this:

A thoroughly plastered individual crawls into a taxi and somehow manages to convey a destination to the driver. The cab heads off, and pretty soon it’s weaving in and out of lanes, cutting off traffic, and making Automan-style right-angle turns. Our hypothetical fare feels a gallon of booze sloshing around, and the urge to spew rises like water in a death trap.

Suddenly, the passenger sees that there’s a $50 charge for downloading dinner in the cab! …and ralphs. Because, you know, belly full of poison.

It’s clear that the fee is intended to be punitive and is only listed so that they can say it was posted.

How much was that again?

This is where I always end up when punitive charges are posted — performing a cost-benefit analysis.

For $50 I can toss cookies all over this vehicle. Under the seat, between the cushions, under the window — anywhere I can reach. That’s not cheap, as thrills go, but it’s hardly more than a boat tour. Really, what’s more authentic? Throwing up in a cab, that’s what I think.

Just don’t forget to tip.


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